Universal Credit cut epitomises life in Cruel Britannia – Laura Waddell

In Cruel Britannia, children in low-income households already shoulder the stress of money worries.

Children should not have to carry the stress of life-blighting poverty (Picture: John Devlin)
Children should not have to carry the stress of life-blighting poverty (Picture: John Devlin)

The £20-a-week cut from Universal Credit recipients – by politicians who could lose several £20 notes on the back seat of the taxi they charge to the taxpayer and never notice a difference – will undoubtedly make lives harder.

The Fabian society estimated in February that removing this amount “will put 700,000 people into poverty”, hitting particularly hard those households with a disabled adult, carers, and families with children.

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Politicians are sometimes caught out when asked in interviews about the price of a pint of milk. Everyone scoffs when they fumble. But it’s not that they don’t know. Many simply don’t care.

Austerity is the belief in hierarchy of human life. Those who take it upon themselves to pursue political projects which have widened the gap between rich and poor in the United Kingdom consider the difference in material circumstances that one is born into to be not luck but fate and, in asserting themselves at the top, they’ll kick downwards.

British children from low-income households know life costs money. They can feel it in their bones. Not from a lack of things, nor hearing the word “no” from stressed-out, stretched-to-the-max parents, but in the atmosphere.

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Universal Credit: £20 a week cut makes little economic sense and will leave poor...

Lack of money represents the little things that keep little ones in step with school friends and not left behind. Children shouldn’t have to carry that stress, and yet, in the United Kingdom, they do.

When it comes down to this kind of money, it’s the difference between moving through a day with relative ease and stacking stress on top of stressed foundations. On low incomes, everything becomes more difficult and more tiring; every setback more defeating; every comfortable option costly.

This cut is not so much skimming the cream but taking away a ladleful of what makes already pared down lives more possible.

When people are so down to the wire, it’s unnecessarily cruel to strip it away further. How can any family in such a situation save for a rainy day, when it rains every day, and there’s absolutely no money to spare?

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